10. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
This was a surprising find for me-- I wasn't sure what to expect, but I absolutely fell in love with the characters, the world, and the non-preachy spirituality I found in the pages.
Goodreads Book Description:
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
9. Black City by Elizabeth Richards
I just recently finished reading this book after Fiona Paul highly recommended it to me. I love how Elizabeth Richards takes a stereotypical set up and completely turns it on its head. This is a must read with a beautiful love story.
Goodreads Book Description: A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.
In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
8. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
I read this book quite some time ago, but it still resonates with me even now. I loved the imagery of the world building, and the characters are terrific. Cole is devastatingly sexy in his evil way, and Jack is the boy next door that every girl wants to eventually marry. I can't wait for the follow up.
Goodreads Book Description: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she's returned--to her old life, her family, her boyfriend--before she's banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance--and the one person she loves more than anything. But there's just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki's time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's queen.
7. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
I was completely impressed by this book. Shawn Keenan recommended this one to me, and I was blown away by how realistic this post-apocalyptic world was described. It's an intense ride with some amazing characters, and I was in tears by the end.
Goodreads Book Description: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.
6. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Talk about another intense read. Every move in this novel was deliberate and thought provoking. One of the most emotionally gripping novels I've ever read-- and out of my comfort zone. I don't typically read contemporaries, but this one was well worth the exception.
Goodreads Book Description: A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.
Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.
Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.
5. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Another earlier read that I can't quite get out of my head. I felt this novel was so unique and terrifically modern while still having a goth/horror vibe. I was on my toes from beginning to end, and Anna remains one of my favorite YA characters of all time.
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.
4. Elemental by Antony John
Yes, Antony John is a good friend of mine, but that has nothing to do with how I felt about this book. I was blown away by the pacing, the characters, and the plot reveals. This book just came out, but I had the privilege of getting to read an ARC quite some time ago. One of my favorite dystopians of the year-- plus it manages to have an element of fantasy!
Goodreads Book Description: A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .
Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.
In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.
3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
For someone who lived through the eighties and played some old timey video games when they were still pixelated, this was a must read. I'm not sure that people who don't get as many of the references will love it quite as much as I did, but still without those references, this is a pulse pounding thriller with wonderful twists and terrific characters.
Goodreads Book Description: It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I loved this book. The world building was incredibly unique and the whole novel was different than anything I had ever read before. The prose was beautiful, and I loved the quirky three dimensionality to all of the characters. I can't wait to get my hands on the next installment, which just came out. Close to my favorite book of the year.
Goodreads Book Description: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
1. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
This was my favorite book that I've read this year. I was so impressed with how thoughtful the text was-- it is literally a tome of a possible culture that would be created in a zombie apocalypse. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was wrong. I compare this book to an onion-- I kept peeling back layer after layer, getting more and more involved with the wonderful characters. Not only that, many ethical issues were presented in this book, and handled elegantly. Lastly, Tom Imura was my biggest book crush of the year.
Goodreads Book Description: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
Don't forget to enter some great giveaways!
1. Interview and Giveaway prize pack of Beckoning Light and Perilous Light by Alyssa Rose Ivy (US only), 11/12
Afterglow Trilogy Giveaway
2. Interview and Giveaway with Tracy Rozzlynn, author of the Fast-Tracked and Verita trilogies, Two Sets of Fast-tracked (first two books), Two sets of Verita Trilogies (first two books) OR $25 Amazon GC
Verita and Fast Tracked Giveaway
3. US giveaway of 5 Elemental Bookmarks signed by Antony John
Elemental Bookmark Giveaway
4. Interview with Eric Gale and giveaway of signed ARC of The Bully Book (INT)
Bully Book Giveaway